Brewer and Shipley
Down In L.A.



by tef USER (16 Reviews)
August 6th, 2015 | 5 replies

Release Date: 1968 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A hidden masterpiece of folk rock

As active participants of the Los Angeles Music scene in the late sixties it wasn’t a problem for Mike Brewer and Tom Shipley to find some fine musicians to play on their debut album “Down In L.A.”. Brewer was well acquainted in the scene having played with various musicians before teaming up with Shipley and he’d done some noteworthy shows opening for the likes of Buffalo Springfield and The Byrds.

Among the musicians on this album are Jim Messina , Leon Russel, and Jim Gordon, all very respectable musicians in their own right. Brewer and Shipley had written a bunch of terrific songs, so everything looked very promising for their debut album “Down In L..A.”.

The album starts with the terrific “Truly Right”, an uptempo folk rock song immediately pointing out what kind of an album this is gonna be. Intricate double vocal melodies paired with beautifully ringing acoustic guitars and a tight rhythm section really make this the perfect opening song. The lyrics aren’t very clear but hints at the Vietnam War. The song has a disconcerting quality; it seems that it’s truly right that there’s something wrong…
Next track “She Thinks She’s A Woman” is a nice folk ballad seemingly about someone having romantic feelings for a teenage or young adult lady. A very peaceful, typical sixties tune, again very much indicative of the time in which it was written
Mid tempo song “Time and Changes” is notable for it’s great keyboard work from Russel and it’s “drone”-like vibe. The lyric seems related to the previous track and echoes the concerns of that generation:

“I had a girl, young thing
She had the time, she knew how to love me”

“With a change in seeing
And there’s a change in the meaning
And there’s a change in believing all that I say and all that I’m feeling”

Two more love songs follow of which “I Can’t See Her” immediately grabs you by the throat. This is a haunting love song. A song about unanswered feelings of love and the inability to do something about it. The lyrics are wonderful and dreamy and sad:

“A young girl sleeps
And her dreams are laced with silver
From the day before
And as I stare I detect a sudden shiver
Thinking of the day she'll leave
She thinks I don’t need her
She thinks I don’t see”

The music is just extremely beautiful and so fitting to the lyric. Come this track the listener might start to wonder why these guys didn’t become superstars with a debut album like this.
Next track “Green Bamboo” again seems to hint at the soldiers in Vietnam and the difference between the flower power/ summer of love vibe in L.A. and the war at the other end of the world.

“An Incredible State Of Affairs” at the start of side B continues the seemingly endless stream of very high quality songs making it once more very clear that Brewer and Shipley should be regarded as one of the most prolific vocal duo’s of the sixties and seventies. “Keeper of the Keys” is the pivotal song of the album and with it’s beautiful, metaphorical lyrics the most thought provoking.
“Love, Love” is nice but forgettable. The title track is a bit reminiscent of the album opener in tempo and feel and equally great!
The album ends with the pastoral “Mass For M’Lady”. A slow church organ opening the song and quite a lot of unisono singing lend this track a special, more serious tone. An interesting album ending.

Get to know this album and you will find it impossible to believe that Brewer & Shipley did not turn out to be one of the leading acts in pop/folk music in the seventies. Their (physical) move away from the L.A. music scene to Kansas City, Missouri in the early seventies might have something to do with this.
It’s even harder to come to realize that this excellent album is all but forgotten today. Especially in Europe these guys are pretty much unknown even amongst fanatical music lovers.

It’s somehow good to know that Brewer & Shipley were however respected among fellow musicians and have been in the company of greats like Jerry Garcia, David Crosby, Bruce Springsteen etc.
If there was ever a hidden masterpiece of folk rock music, this is it.

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user ratings (1)

Comments:Add a Comment 
August 6th 2015


It's a nice read, but it's a little tiresome with so many small paragraphs

August 6th 2015


Album Rating: 5.0

Thanks for the comment. Was struggling a bit with the lay out. Glueing certain bits together also didn't feel right...

August 6th 2015


Album Rating: 5.0

Made some minor edits, thanks

August 6th 2015


Glad to see a Brewer and Shipley review. Weeds is great so I'll check this one in due time.

August 7th 2015



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